Terra Nostra - Listen to the Premiere

The Premiere

Note: This is a live recording of the premiere; music starts very softly at 0:40. Total length: 32 minutes, 33 seconds.

Terra Nostra was premiered in June 2015 by the Lake Union Civic Orchestra (LUCO), a community symphonic ensemble based in Seattle, under the musical direction of Christophe Chagnard. The performance took place at Meany Hall at the University of Washington and was very well received, eliciting emotional and passionate responses from a large and highly diversified audience. To intensify the audience experience, 130 provocative photographs and short videos were precisely synchronized with the piece and projected on a large screen above the orchestra. Chagnard had also commissioned a 17-year-old student from Boston, Emily Siff, to write a poem on climate change. During the performance, she read her creation with great flair and conviction. The combination of dramatic symphonic music, compelling images, and powerful words on the causality of global warming and fate of our planet created a deeply involving and connecting media experience that transcended boundaries.

Terra Nostra is highly programmatic, filled with themes and quotes that depict precise images and phenomena. The architecture of Terra Nostra is based on a timeline spanning from the Big Bang through present time, and on to an unknown and alarming future. Following the formation of the earth, the evolution of the human species is depicted through a series of well-known musical quotes. The Industrial Revolution heralds a new era, which brings about a dramatic change in the aesthetics and mood of the music. Drought and its many consequences are followed by population explosion, melting of Arctic sea ice, rising CO2 concentrations, and air pollution. Terra Nostra concludes with a palindrome, ending as it began.

Turning Back, Emily Siff

Part I

Photographed by Yoshiki Nakamura © Seattle Digital Photography

patience, patience
shh shh
the world
murmurs beneath our
feet.
there's this rush
rush to
finish
(though we are
never sure
where the finish line is)
and to
brush past it all.
Everything is
just
a waste
bin
for us to
use and toss
use and
toss.
all this rushing
while the world
is simply
patience, patience shh
shh
beneath us.
that earthquake took
a million years,
one millimeter at a time
of the earth shifting through
365 days
of patience, patience shh
shh
for that
single rumble.
We
lay waste
in an
instant.
You are
running.
you do
not even know
the earth,
gutted and razed,
is
moving as well.
You
feel nothing
because it is all
just too slow
too
beneath you.
But what will
you do
without your
footing,
when there is
nothing
for you to
rushh on?
You scoff
at the
slowness
of
patience
patience shh
shh.
What will
you have to
trample on
when your
last
waste bin
is tossed away.

and even
even when you
listen carefully
patience, patience shh
shh
will not be heard
because
even patience shhhhh
eventually
will have
had enough.

You do
not
can
not
rushh your own
funeral;
yet you are
satirically eager
to rush the world’s.

Part II

Photographed by Yoshiki Nakamura © Seattle Digital Photography

What a
Hollow harmony
this has been.

we do not
treat
our children
our metal
our
phones
with such
redundancy
dipped in
scorn.
but the
World
the world
that large
muted
body
that is
curling
crushing
curtailing
in on itself,
that is,
allegedly,
'Mother'
has been
maimed

Memories flicker:
mothers are also
children
and children
are
only as lucid
as you
build them to
be.
This
mother,
this
child,
is waiting for a lullaby
of shh
shh
to echo its own.
and we
Splinter chaos,
attempt to
mock entropy,
molding
our own
unnatural tune.

Buildings and fabrics and lights,
meant to soothe,
melting into
the
nuances of
an abrupt lullaby,
hurried over the
patience shh
in a
clang
ping pang
patter
of dizzying loss.
And this child
Awaits
her lullaby
her lull-
-bye.
and we
so suddenly
sling and splatter
stones
into its
fleshhhh
shhh.

Part III

Photographed by Yoshiki Nakamura © Seattle Digital Photography

years
pacing by.
Glowing,
Hushh
Going,
Hushh.
The lamp
greets its reflection
in the window pane.
The hands
exchange their echoes
in the
window
Stains.
Cocooned in our
homes
it all
seems so much
less
imminent.
We lounge.
The sky twists;
an agonizing howl.
We bathe bare.
Lakes die. The earth is stripped,
Forcefully bared.
Throats dry.
Bodies: dire and dryer and tired and-
We disregard.

Gases suffocate.
Glaciers melt.

Granules
grasped between our
graying lands.
Earth’s flooded curves and
dry feet
stomping their defeat across
our rush in a
Clash, crash, crawl.
Wading,
waiting through our
vapors and neon and
slushhh.

Success is a
crooked word
when our
Shhh
has swayed the world
to its knees.

These hands
against the windows
wrinkle, creak.
Old, we say.
Wise, we believe.
We watch our mothers and children
within our walls and windows,
within our nows and vows.
Everything is
too little,
too brittle.
But the sun,
collapsing and rising,
sickened by the lights
at its feet,
lingers beyond our homes.
The strings of
Dawn’s dead eyes
are
slowly
cut.
It’s all just
pain etched outside
the glass.

Back turned,
Turned back,
only your sillhouette minds
the ascending gloom and
falling doom.
Candles melting,
Glowing,
you shhhh
your children.
Years Going,
you
rushhhh away.

Photographed by Ryan Somna - licensed under CC 2.0